Microsoft, Toshiba to Jointly Push HD-DVD Format

Microsoft and Toshiba have announced plans to develop high-definition DVD players and software together using Toshiba's HD-DVD format, and extend that format's usage beyond TV as-we-know-it through cross-license technologies and joint cooperation in designing new models of mobile personal computers.

Both companies have already established an alliance on new media ventures and Toshiba sees this deal as significant for next-generation HD-DVD discs--which are in a race for universal acceptance against the Blu-ray disc technology backed by Sony and Apple Computers. Both formats, which could be on store shelves in less than a year, are incompatible with each other.

Microsoft chief Bill Gates visited Japan recently to meet with university students and business leaders, according to the Associated Press. Gates did not use the term "exclusive" in discussing the Toshiba alliance, although he did tell reporters he wanted to see the HD-DVD format become more widespread.

Toshiba, for its part, said it was unclear what effect the Microsoft agreement will have on the DVD format war. While Blu-ray has more disc storage capacity with roughly 50 gigabytes--compared to 30 gigabytes for HD-DVD--proponents of the latter format say it's less expensive to make because the production method is similar to current DVD discs. Blu-ray's is not.